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Back to School 2021-22 Resources

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This page was last updated August 30 at 10:45 am.

COVID Rules & Protocols Overview


What We Know

  • In addition to mandatory vaccines for state employees, Governor Inslee announced a directive requiring all employees working for public and private K–12 schools to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain a religious or medical exemption by October 18, 2021
  • Individuals with legitimate medical reasons or sincerely held religious reasons must obtain an exemption by October 18, 2021.
  • The exemptions do not include personal or philosophical objections.
  • Read OSPI's FAQ document.


What We Know

  • Masks will be required when indoors for all K-12 employees and students, regardless of vaccination status.
  • In rare circumstances when a cloth face covering cannot be worn, students and staff may use a clear face covering or a face shield with a drape or wrap as an alternative to a cloth face covering. If used, face shields should extend below the chin, wrap around to the ears, and have no gap at the forehead.
  • Students may remove face coverings to eat and drink, and when they are outside.
  • The school is responsible for providing appropriate PPE for all staff, including those who
    provide assistance to students who have special needs.


What We Know

  • Physical distancing requirements should not prevent a school from offering full-time, in- person learning to all students/families in the fall.
  • Maintain physical distance of three feet or more between students in classroom settings to the degree possible and reasonable, that allows for full-time, in-person learning for all students. A school’s ability to do so will depend on students’ ages, developmental and physical abilities, and available space.
  • Select strategies to increase physical distancing that will work for your school and the space available. There may be moments, such as passing by others in the hallway or during play at recess when students are not fully physically distanced from each other. Maximize opportunities to increase physical space between students during all scheduled activities and limit interactions in large group settings.

Press Conference with Governor Inslee, Superintendent Reykdal, and Secretary of Health Shah

Governor Jay Inslee holds a press conference at the State Capitol to discuss the state's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor will be joined by Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. 

Washington State Department of Health K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for Summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 School Year

For the most comprehensive and up-to-date guidance, please read DOH's full requirements and guidance. The document covers:
  • Vaccination
  • Face Coverings/Masks
  • Physical Distancing
  • Ventilation
  • Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Stay Home When Sick
  • Testing
  • Responding to Cases or Suspected Cases of COVID-19
  • Reporting Cases and Outbreaks and Working with Public Health
  • Extracurricular and Co-curricular Activities
  • More COVID-19 Information and Resources

More Links, Updates, and Resources

CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools

Key Takeaways

  • Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
  • Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
  • Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • In addition to universal indoor masking, CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as screening testing.
  • Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, and other members of their households and support in-person learning.
  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).


For More Information 

Scott Seaman | Executive Director | (800) 562-6100

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